In the seventh incident in a series of attacks on girls’ schools in Afghanistan, gunmen recently forced a school in the Wardak province that served 1,300 girls to close. The government-run newspaper, the Arman-e-Millie Daily, reported that the gunmen threatened students at the school southwest of the Afghan capitol, Kabul, according to Reuters.
This attack follows the burning of two girls’ schools in the northern provinces as well as three in the southeastern province of Zabul over the past few weeks. The schools in the northern provinces were burned shortly after pamphlets were distributed around mosques in those areas warning women to continue wearing their burqas. Among the two dozen people arrested in connection with that incident were four local clerics sympathetic to the fundamentalist Taliban, according to Reuters. Under the Taliban, girls were prohibited from attending school.
In addition, a girls’ school was bombed in the Ghazni province last month. There were no casualties, but the school had to be closed for several days, delaying the education of Afghan girls, according to Reuters.
Despite the continued violence in Afghanistan, the State Department last month issued a report questioning the expansion of peacekeeping troops outside of Kabul. Afghan women have indicated that security is their top priority. Threats to Loya Jirga delegates who have spoken out for human rights, including Minister of Women’s Affairs Dr. Sima Samar; the assassination of two government ministers; violence against women in the Northern provinces; violence against humanitarian aid workers; and the continued use of tactics of intimidation against the return of girls to school show the need for expansion of peace keeping forces both within and beyond Kabul is desperate.
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .